It's currently bushfire season in Queensland, which typically starts in July and runs through to December, occasionally extending into February, although bushfires can happen at any time of the year.
Bushfires are a challenging part of Queensland’s ecosystem and right now, have impacted large parts of South-West and Central Queensland including close to 30 national parks and state forests. And with this comes injured wildlife, but there are things you can do to help.
If you live in a bushfire-impacted community keep an eye out for injured animals, they may turn up in the most unlikely of places.
Remember, these animals may be injured or frightened and could try to defend themselves if handled. So, if you discover sick, injured or orphaned wildlife which are not dangerous, you can contact 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) for advice and connection to local wildlife carers.
If it’s an injured snake you’ve found on your property, be sure to contact a licenced contractor who can remove it safely.
To help care for our injured wildlife we are supporting the South East Queensland wildlife hospital network, including Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, RSPCA Qld Wildlife Hospital and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital in preparation for a potential influx of injured wildlife as a result of the current fires.
This year, the heightened bushfire risk across the country can be attributed to the climate phenomenon El Niño, which causes warmer temperatures and less rainfall. Along with the effects of climate change fuelling rising temperatures and more frequent hot days, bushfire danger is projected to keep intensifying.
So, what else have we been doing to prepare for bushfires on our protected estates? And what can you do to prepare?
What we have been doing to prepare
The Department of Environment and Science manages just over 13 million hectares of public parks and forests, making us Queensland’s largest land manager.
Managing an area twice the size of Tasmania demands a continuous, year-round commitment. Our work hard to safeguard the diverse natural, cultural, social, and economic values of these areas.
Fire is an integral part of a healthy, natural, and cultural environment. It is necessary for the conservation of many species and their habitats and continues to shape many of Queensland's landscapes.
Planned burns are the most common and effective method of reducing fuel loads across natural areas. They are beneficial to fire-adapted vegetation and reduce the likelihood and impact of large-scale, high-severity bushfires.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) carried out 535 controlled burns and other mitigation activities covering a total of 666,464 hectares from July 2022 to June 2023. These efforts marked an increase of 100 mitigation activities compared to the previous year and was in response to the excess growth of grass driven by above-average rainfall over the past three years.
Some other strategies we utilise as part of our broader fire management program include:
- maintaining and managing a 35,000km road and fireline network to meet the needs of fire management
- surveillance activities, including a fire camera network, satellite hotspot monitoring and dedicated ground patrols during elevated risk periods
- maintaining a fleet of light and medium attack fire appliances
- communicating and educating visitors and occupiers of parks and forests to ensure they are informed and safe from fire risks
- training staff to prepare them for the key roles they are expected to fulfil in fire management including within Incident Management Teams
- partnerships within Queensland’s Bushfire Management Groups, First Nations peoples (in particular Land and Sea Ranger groups), neighbours, stakeholders, and adjacent communities.
Even though we work year-round to reduce the risk of bushfires, fire is a natural part of Australia's environment, and has been so for thousands of years. The problem is when it occurs during dangerous weather conditions, or is in an uncontrolled situation, it can become a significant threat to people, property and our environment.
To stay on top of these conditions, individuals need to be prepared. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services offers a wealth of information for your benefit, which we’ve condensed into three essential actions.
How you can prepare for bushfires
It’s never too late to prepare for bushfires. The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) website provides a wealth of information on preparing for bushfire season. Here is a list of their resources to assist you:
- This comprehensive survival plan can be personalised, saved and shared. It covers both evacuation and staying strategies, and strongly advises creating a contingency plan in case your first choice isn’t possible.
- Have Get Ready Queensland’s evacuation checklist on hand in case of emergency.
- See the bushfire potential in your neighbourhood simply by entering your postcode.
- Get to know where your ‘Neighbourhood Safer Places’ are located. These are local open spaces or buildings where people may gather, as a last resort, to seek shelter from a bushfire.
- Keep an eye out for warnings, and get familiar with Fire Danger Ratings and the official Bushfire Warning system.
- In addition to our Park Alerts and QFES’ current bushfires and warnings map, it’s also smart to track any fire bans or restrictions.
- Find out if you have property with a heightened risk of bushfire damage.
- Check out QFES’ Bushfire Safety Guide for a comprehensive checklist of every preparation you need to make to get ready for bushfire season.
- If you’re unsure about your property’s level of bushfire risk, or require assistance, you can call 13QGOV (13 74 68) to book a Property Advice Visit.
BONUS: Review your home, contents and car insurance policies to confirm your coverage for bushfire-related incidents.
Bushfires remain a significant challenge in Queensland's ecosystem, with factors such as climate change and natural phenomena like El Niño intensifying the risk. We play a crucial role in mitigating these risks within protected areas through strategies like planned burns, extensive surveillance, and community engagement.
However, bushfire preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. Preparing your home and family for bushfires can save lives. It’s important to be proactive, with a well thought out plan in place and your property ready for an emergency.